8 Reasons Why Some Teams Don’t Produce
(and What You Can Do About it!)

David Rippe, CEO, Celestia International

The boss has an idea that is sure to benefit the company. It’s certain to be a money-maker. He wants to fast track the initiative. Expectations are high.

People are psyched. A team is formed. Six months— and a dozen meetings later—little progress has been made and the project fizzles.

There are many reasons why important projects implode, but there is one culprit that is almost always the reason for the failure—the team itself. So, why do some teams fail while others succeed? Let’s look at 8 key reasons.

  1. Unclear Purpose, Undefined Goals: The boss had a great idea but he didn’t communicate the complete vision including the purpose of the What does success look like? What are the goals? A 15% increase in sales? A 99% customer satisfaction rating? Taking 10% market share from a competitor? Unless there is a clear set of expectations the team has no idea what it is working toward.

  2. No Metrics: What gets measured gets Yet many key initiatives don’t have adequate metrics to gauge the progress of the project. Has 50% of the budget been expended but only 10% of the work completed? Is the project 30% done but 90% of the original timeline is gone? It’s important to measure the things that matter. Conversely, too many details, too many metrics, can smother a project.
  3. No Ownership: Someone needs to be in charge to lead the The project leader owns the project. He or she needs to make sure people are assigned the right things and they are completed at the right time. Without a leader to take ownership of the project’s success team members will miss deadlines and produce poor results.
  4. Lack of Accountability: It’s remarkable how often people aren’t held accountable for their assigned If people aren’t made to do their jobs and keep their commitments, there is little chance progress will be made. It also seriously undermines the company’s authority—and that of your managers. Once that happens the dysfunction spreads and your managers have a tough job re-instilling discipline.
  5. Poor Communication: Teams meet, critical items are discussed, and then team members return to their regular roles until the next meeting. But what occurred in the meeting is up for dispute because each person heard a different thing. Some team members are all over it, some are in over their heads, some were thinking about picking up their dry cleaning. Without good communication key initiatives quickly get off track, never to recover.
  6. Inadequate Meeting Cadence: Oftentimes a team is formed, a kickoff meeting is held, but then the next meeting isn’t for another It’s hard to generate momentum without timely regular check-ins to ensure the project has the right pace and progress.
  7. Missed Milestones: Not everyone on the team takes their role And, not everyone on the team has a roll-up-your-sleeves attitude. You’ll have stars on your team who will over achieve and meet their milestones. Others will struggle to keep up and will adversely affect the deliverables resulting in missed milestones. The leader and stars on the team inevitably cover off the shortfall putting more strain on the project—and themselves.
  8. Faulty Decision Making: The biggest problem confronting every business is faulty decision making caused by confirmation Confirmation bias is the fact that virtually all people look for information that reinforces what they already believe. We see what we want to see. To make matters worse human beings have 159 other known cognitive biases that skew their ability to make sound decisions. Equally problematic is that no one believes that they personally have any biases, but everyone else does. There are highly effective tools and techniques that can be used to mitigate these biases and allow teams to make sound decisions.

Recommendations to create effective teams

  1. Use the Objective Key Results (OKR) methodology to define what success looks OKRs bring alignment from strategic planning to actual execution. It sets clear expectations for all and encourages active discussion of roadblocks.

  2. Implement a Who-What-When (WWW) for all meetings. The WWW holds people and teams accountable for It’s to be used in all management and planning meetings. Tasks are stated aloud by each participant. The WWW is reviewed to start off the next meeting of the same team. To see an example of a WWW template please email me.
  3. Conduct a detailed kick off meeting to establish OKRs, assign responsibilities, and brainstorm a pre-mortem of what could go wrong and cause the project to fail; and a post-mortem as if it is one year later and you were wildly successful.
  4. Establish a viable meeting rhythm, a cadence, that keeps the people and the project Depending on the complexity of the project there can be different meetings for different groups within the team. These can be daily, weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. But whatever the meeting rhythm, you need one, and you need to stick to the schedule.
  5. Know the work habits and communication style of your team by reviewing their personality assessment (if they have one) such as Myers-Briggs, which can show you how people on the team process information and need to be communicated with. For further assistance, please read the books Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson and Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goldman.

Teams are how companies assign the best resources available to a project or initiative to ensure the work is successfully performed. The expectation is that the team is going to work together to produce the desired results. Unfortunately, as you can see by the eight reasons above, it is far easier for teams to fail than to succeed. Implementing the tools recommended above can turn dysfunctional, disconnected team members into productive, effective teams driven to succeed. And isn’t that the whole point?

David Rippe is a strategic consultant and growth expert who works with CEOs and C-Suite executives. He has assisted over 500 hundred companies generate $1.5 billion in revenue. David provides clear insight and alignment with a “wherever it leads, whatever it takes” approach to ensure his clients’ success.

He can be reached at david@celestiacorp.com or 513-253-4854.